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Thread: Playing without fingernails?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    8

    Default Playing without fingernails?

    First off I'm a total noob, have been playing a few weeks and I do pretty much nothing but play basic chords whenever I have time to pick up my uke. I grew out my fingernails at first on my right hand (advice from some beginner book by Randy Sproat I picked up). It worked well at first, but I can't stand having long fingernails and cut them recently, I'm wondering is it possible to play well with short nails if you build up finger strength? Right now my playing sounds like death (faint) using a combo of short nail/fingertip and have been reverting back to using thumb/pointer fingertips which sounds louder but inconsistent.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    San Francisco, CA
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    2,901

    Default

    i keep my nails very short all the time. however, not sure what you mean by finger strength for picking. you'd probably need more finger strength for the hand that frets the chords.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Santa Barbara, California
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    I personally feel like I advance quicker with my nails cropped down as far as they get.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Australia, Sydney to Newcastle
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    i personal cant play without them, probably a mental thing for me... but i play like i jusat started.

    i like picking though, cant pick without fingernails!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
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    i used to have a long thumb nail, but i cut mine off already. it took time to get used to but i like the feel of it better than having nails

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Seattle
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by roypoy View Post
    First off I'm a total noob, have been playing a few weeks and I do pretty much nothing but play basic chords whenever I have time to pick up my uke. I grew out my fingernails at first on my right hand (advice from some beginner book by Randy Sproat I picked up). It worked well at first, but I can't stand having long fingernails and cut them recently, I'm wondering is it possible to play well with short nails if you build up finger strength? Right now my playing sounds like death (faint) using a combo of short nail/fingertip and have been reverting back to using thumb/pointer fingertips which sounds louder but inconsistent.
    I can't stand having long nails either so I keep 'em short. I don't pick (yet) but I say play how you're most comfortable for now. Otherwise you won't play as much Master the basics and follow your own path. Have fun!
    "hana ka hoe, pa`a ka waha!"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Santa Barbara, California
    Posts
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    I pick with my fingers and no fingernails just fine. I like the sound of flesh on the strings better than a nail, it sounds prettier to me.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Outside DC
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    771

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    I can't really pick well to save my life, but when my fingernails get to long, I end up cutting 'em, 'cause I cant stand the sound of the fingernail against the string-- I prefer the sound of skin on the string. I mean, obviously, Aldrine's got nails longer than my grandma, and his playing sounds great. But when I do it, it sounds-- ugly.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Santa Barbara, California
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    Quote Originally Posted by tad View Post
    I can't really pick well to save my life, but when my fingernails get to long, I end up cutting 'em, 'cause I cant stand the sound of the fingernail against the string-- I prefer the sound of skin on the string. I mean, obviously, Aldrine's got nails longer than my grandma, and his playing sounds great. But when I do it, it sounds-- ugly.
    Same goes for me, maybe we just need manicures tad

    I will probably end up experimenting again sometime, but for now, for learning, cropped and short as they can get.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Minneapolis, Mn
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    You really don't need super long nails to fingerpick though. You can get by with a nail that extends to just about to the top of the pads on your fingers are. Just long enough to catch a bit of the string when you pluck and enough to give a good down strum with.
    I suppose that it would take a bit of getting used to if you've always kept your nails trimmed to the quick, but I personally think it's worthwhile.

    I really like the clarity and ring of fingerpicking with some nail behind it. Without just sounds kind of muffled and dead to me. Not to mention the extra volume you get. Plus you can utilize a nail like a regular pick to play solos and quickly double pick strings.

    My biggest problem with nails is just keeping them filed to a good height for playing but where I'm also not going to keep breaking them at work.

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